Sunday, 12 June 2016

FILM 1543: GIGI 

TRIVIA: The cat in the movie reacted violently whenever it was in a scene with Leslie Caron, but director Vincente Minnelli insisted on having that particular cat, so it had to be heavily drugged. This is especially obvious during "Say a Prayer for Me Tonight".

When Alan Jay Lerner met Leslie Caron in London to discuss the film with her, he was surprised to discover that Caron, who was of French birth, had become so immersed in the English culture that she had lost her French accent.

Several characters in Beauty and the Beast (1991) are an homage to characters in Gigi: Lumiere is a tribute to Maurice Chevalier, perfectly impersonated by Jerry Orbach. The main male protagonist's name is Gaston, with a similar air of confidence as Gaston from Gigi. When Gigi rebuffs him, it is similar to when Belle rebuffs Gaston and both sing a self righteous song of indignation. Gaston of B&B is not redeemed in the end however unlike Gigi's Gaston. Beauty and the Beast is itself a take on the classic french novel La Belle et la Bete. Though not the same source material, both being french themed, B&B pays homage to great French actors and themes past in Gigi. Watching Gigi will lead to a greater appreciation of Beauty and the Beast.

Cecil Beaton had to supply over 150 period costumes for the scene in the Bois, and 20 ornate gowns for the scene in Maxims. Beaton had difficulty procuring such a large amount of costumes in Paris but when the production moved to Hollywood, he found warehouses stuffed to bursting with period furniture and costumes.

Gaston's walk through Paris while singing "Gigi" uses camera magic to make parts of Paris which are miles apart seem adjacent to each other. This technique, called "creative geography", was created and named by French filmmaker Jean Cocteau.

The cast had to mouth the songs as production was so swift that the score had yet to recorded by the time it came to filming.

As he often did with his films, Vincente Minnelli looked toward the art world for inspiration on how each scene should look. He found inspiration in the work of French caricaturist Sem, whose sketches had been admired by Colette herself when she was writing the original characters in Gigi. For the opening sequence in the Bois du Boulogne he looked to the work of artist Constantin Guys. Boudin's work served as the inspiration for the beach sequences in Gigi. In addition, Minnelli also threw in some Art Nouveau to represent the character of Honoré Lachailles. Minelli recalled, "Our reasoning for using the influence in the settings was to show how avant garde Chevalier's character would be, using the brand-new style in his bachelor digs."

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